Minimalism: 5 benefits to digitizing all your documents.

It hasn’t been 72 hours since Hurricane Matthew left, leaving a trail of devastation in its aftermath and a tenth of Floridians without power; a few have lost their lives, and many have lost things they worked hard to obtain.

We were blessed to have been in a safe zone and surprisingly, didn’t even lose power. It was also during those hours of tension and uncertainty that I finally started putting a thought I’d had some time ago into action.

You see, we’ve been living on the third floor of a 557 square-foot studio apartment for a little over a month, and at 4:27 am one night, the fire alarm to the entire building went off. It lasted only 10 minutes, but the decibel level made it seem like an hour, and boy, we could not sleep after all that adrenaline in our system; we felt sleep-deprived for another day or so, actually.

We were unsure what to do, we didn’t see fire anywhere, but a lot of the neighbors were slowly making their way down the stairs, half asleep, in their pajamas, while some others just stood there in their balconies, as if they were confident it was just a false alarm. It felt very surreal to me, I mean, I’ve been awakened before because of a low battery in the smoke detector in my bedroom, but this was loud and I felt disoriented the whole time.

After all was quiet, I laid in bed thinking: “what if it wasn’t a false alarm? What if our building was on fire and we had to run out right then and there, with no time to get anything else?”

And as Matthew targeted the Florida coastline, our beloved Jacksonville Pier and businesses, our backyards and everything we held dear, we were unsure of a sudden evacuation and possible loss of belongings. Pretty crazy if you ask me.

On top of that, I already have OCD tendencies and a crazy imagination from time to time (one reason I don’t watch the news and am trying to not watch some movie genres), so I knew I had to at least make all our important documents digital, for the worst case scenarios.

In this digital age, scanning your most important documentation goes a long way. I can immediately think of at least 5 benefits to digitizing your documents:

1. Less clutter around the house.
2. Organized mail in the cloud.
3. Important docs accessible with a couple of clicks.
4. Less hassle to recover said documents in case of fire, flood, etc.
5. Less chances of seeing termite in a box full of paper laying around the attic in the foreseeable future.

You might relate to one or more of these benefits. I sure did; #2 has instantly made life easier; it was like discovering instant coffee! Now whenever I pick up my mail, I use my $5 scanning app (CamScanner for Android) to put it all in the cloud. No more need for a mail holder!

Here’s an example of how I’m currently organizing our mail (obviously the methods are subject to change):

1. I scan the document on the app (single page or batch mode for multiple shots).
2. It enhances the image and crops it for better image quality.
3. I “share” a pdf of it (since it combines 2 or more pages into one file) into Google Drive (15GB free storage takes a while to fill up).
4. I store it in the correct folder with an appropriate file name to identify it (I’ve created a Personal Docs folder to separate it from my blog and photography stuff, and inside it, I created a 2016 folder; inside that folder, I’ve created several folders such as Doctor Visits, Gym Membership Agreements, Leases, Auto-Related, etc to categorize and simplify the process).
5. I dispose of the original document appropriately, if applicable.

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All our current mail is now found in the cloud, where we can access it anywhere, anytime, with just a few clicks.

And that’s it! This 5-step process takes me less than 10 minutes and it saves me time later to sort through clutter of old and irrelevant paperwork.

Not to mention tax paperwork and sentimental items like pictures! Since I still have 7 years of tax docs to scan, I’ll probably find a library to digitize a project this size.

Thankfully we haven’t had any losses in this department, although I have been through minor material losses in the past (but that’s for another post), so I do encourage you to take advantage of the present and its technological resources.

I dragged my feet, but absolutely had no excuse this weekend and now it’s done! What a relief! So how about you? Have you ever used your phone to put something in the cloud? Let me know if you’ve been doing something similar to this, I’d love to hear how you achieve it.

Cheers,

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11 thoughts on “Minimalism: 5 benefits to digitizing all your documents.

  1. Oooooo, This has me all sorts of inspired now. I’m on the brink of upgrading from my 3 year old phone to a new one and need to finally get around to setting up the cloud as a backup for my phone and pictures, etc. This seems like the perfect time to start scanning mail too. Thanks for the post!

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  2. Interesting post. Good suggestions. Regardless of whether one chooses to lead a minimalist lifestyle or not, I would certainly recommend making photos of important documents, photos, etc. and storing a copy off site (in the cloud, in a bank safe deposit box, at a trusted relatives home not close to yours, etc.) for the reasons you mention plus many others.

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  3. When you say store in the cloud, what does that actually mean. I already have a bazillion photos in Google Drive. Are there other places?

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